Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg defenseman Nikita Tryamkin, a third-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, is a giant of a man (he stands 6-foot-7) with tools to burn and a lot of learning to do.
The Russian-born defender was drafted in his second draft eligible season and as a non-scoring defender, carries significant risk in his projection. He also appears to be a long, long way away from committing to leaving Russia and coming overseas to pursue his professional hockey career in North America.
The ultimate wild card in our prospect profile series, Tryamkin checks in at #19 on our list.
Tryamkin, 20, is listed at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, so he’s a very big boy. Talking to some industry sources there is uniform praise for his overall level of skill with a particular focus on his skating ability. That praise though is generally couched in a “for his size” qualifier, but still, the projectable physical tools are undeniable. Tryamkin is a big, physical defenseman with decent wheels and some snarl.
In terms of his overall performance, Tryamkin’s development was pretty flat in his age-20 campaign. Playing for a mid-table Avtomobilist club, Tryamkin started the year out regularly playing 19 and even 20 minutes, but by the end of the year had clearly fallen down the depth chart. Though he dressed in all five of Avtomobilist’s playoff games, Tryamkin only played about six-and-a-half minutes in a tight elimination game, a testament to his coaches appraisal of his skill level.
In addition to his nose diving ice time, Tryamkin produced less offense this season (by one assist) in more games – so his offensive production plateaued as well. He once again spent a short stretch of games in the MHL and that level produced better than a point per game.
Finally there’s the signing issue. Tryamkin is on the final year of his KHL deal, but expressed a willingness this week to extend that contract.
That the big stay-at-home defender may be tough to sign is understandable for a variety of intuitive reasons. For example, unless Tryamkin is guaranteed a spot on an NHL roster, which won’t happen, he’d probably earn more in the KHL than he would cashing in an AHL salary on an entry-level contract. The Canucks have a few years yet to work on Tryamkin before losing his exclusive rights, so this isn’t an urgent issue, but there’s a greater than normal level of risk that he’ll never come over to North America, which should factor into our assessment of his likely future value to the club.
Here’s the 2014/15 Tryamkin highlight reel from Canucks Prospects’ youtube channel: